Plusquellic / Mayors Take Jobs '04 Agenda to Battleground Ohio
By Rhonda Spears
August 30, 2004
The U.S. Conference of Mayors, led by President and Akron Mayor Don Plusquellic, along with mayors from the "big six" cities in the state of Ohio, embarked on a two-day bus tour August 12 to 13 through five major cities in the battleground state promoting the Mayors '04 Metro Agenda for Cities, which was approved unanimously by the Executive Committee and Advisory Board in Chicago at the Conference's leadership meeting. During the tour, the mayors also released an Ohio Metro Economy and Jobs Report that analyzes job losses and forecasts future job growth in each of the six metro economies and the state.
The mayors that participated in the tour along with Plusquellic and Conference Executive Director, Tom Cochran included: Columbus Mayor Michael B. Coleman, Dayton Mayor Rhine McLin, Toledo Mayor Jack Ford, and Cleveland Mayor Jane Campbell.
The mayors held press conferences and editorial board meetings as they traveled through Columbus, Dayton, Cincinnati, Toledo and Cleveland to help frame key issues that are important to America's cities for the presidential candidates.
"We are trying to get our bipartisan message out, especially to the presidential candidates, but to all candidates at the national level to say that we need to talk about our metropolitan areas," Conference President and Akron Mayor Plusquellic said.
"When they [presidential candidates] start debating, we hope they are not just talking about Iraq and purple hearts, but about cities. Both candidates should address housing, cleaning up brownfield sites, unfunded mandates, and paying for public safety and homeland security," he added.
The biggest concern among the Ohio mayors is the loss of jobs in that state since the end of 2000. According to the Mayors' study, conducted by Global Insight, Inc., Ohio ranked 50th among the states and the District of Columbia in economic and job growth over the last four years. Ohio metro economies have borne the brunt of unemployment and slow employment growth.
"We've lost more jobs in Ohio than we've gained," Columbus Mayor Michael B. Coleman said. "The presidential candidates are here every other day...and we want them to hear from mayors."
Reinforcing the message that slow unemployment growth is an important issue for the candidates to discuss, the report indicated that the state's top six metro areas are not expected to reach their pre-recession job levels until well into the future. Cleveland is not expected to regain its lost job until after 2009, Columbus in mid-2006, Cincinnati in mid-2006, Dayton after 2009, Akron in mid-2006, and Toledo after 2009.
The report also reveals that the new jobs gained in the state will have a wage of approximately $6,500 less than the jobs that were lost a 15.6 percent difference. As a result, Ohio workers will lose nearly $950 million annually in income. Ohio's wage gap is 30 percent higher than the national projected wage gap of 12 percent.
Ohio's 15 metro areas are the engines of the state's economy, generating nearly 85 percent of gross state product, over 84 percent of jobs, and over 86 percent of wages. Significantly, the top six metros (Cleveland, Columbus, Cincinnati, Dayton, Akron and Toledo) represent over 70 percent of the state's economy based on their gross metropolitan products (GMP). Fortunately, these same metros are expected to average real GMP growth of 4.4 percent in 2004.
Toledo Mayor Jack Ford said, "We are pressing our case because Ohio is the epicenter of this presidential campaign. We-re asking the candidates to tell us what they are going to do to move the metro areas forward."
Cleveland Mayor Jane Campbell said that cities seem to be losing partnership with the federal government. "We think it is time to re-energize people around the importance of that," she said.
"We need more jobs and we need help from the federal government," Dayton Mayor Rhine McLin added. "Being mayor is where the rubber meets the road. I don't believe America can wait any longer for help."
"By investing in cities and metro areas, we can create good jobs, promote small business development, and bring hope and opportunity to millions of Americans," Plusquellic concluded.
Special thanks to the following newspapers for having editorial board meetings:
Columbus Dispatch, Dayton Daily News, Cincinnati Enquirer, Toledo Blade and the Cleveland Plain-Dealer.